I'm not really sure how I knew it; but, when my dear friend and fellow Muppets fan, Zach, texted me tonight I began to fear the worst. My room mate was across the room from me and I had already began to choke up and felt the tears ready to roll as I told my roomie, "I think I've just been sent some bad news."
All I could see in the text preview was, "I just heard Jerr" and I could feel something was wrong. I got to my room, in the dark, opened the text as I laid down and read something that upset me terribly. The world has lost another great human, and a great soul: Jerry Nelson.
You know, it's probably just a little silly to be weepy over someone you only ever met for a few seconds; but, when that person you met for those few seconds had a lifetime affect on you those are a few seconds that are cherished forever!
When I had the opportunity to meet Jerry Nelson, it was at MuppetFest (the first and only convention for Muppets fans and of all things Jim Henson). It was a thrill to watch him during the panel discussions because he was so funny. It was awesome to see a master at work.
In case you don't know, he was the performer for Count von Count, Kermit's nephew Robin, Floyd Pepper, Gobo Fraggle...and, really, the list goes on forever. He made cameo appearances in many of the shows and movies the Muppets made.
He's also probably one of my favorite vocalists. His smooth voice, whether his own or that of Floyd Pepper, Robin, or the Count, somehow always has a hint of comfort behind it. A few years ago, he released Truro Daydreams, a downloadable "record" of original songs he'd worked on for years, and music I listen to once a week or so. If you haven't bought it yet, please do--you won't be dissatisfied!
Here is a behind the scenes video of "Noah's Ark" from Truro Daydreams.
I can't really suggest that I'm one of the most connected people in the world to share a memorial on his website; but, I do feel a need to share a little bit because of how much the Muppets inspired me as a kid (and still today!). Not just the characters, either; but, also their performers: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, and of course Jerry. Without these folks, certainly Jim, and Charles Schulz, I would never have been so bent on creating fun and entertaining things to bring joy to other folks. And Jerry is one of those to be thanked for that!
I don't usually share personal items from my collection of things, especially when they mean a lot to me; but, back in 1999 I took a chance to write Jerry a letter of appreciation and asked for an autographed photo of himself. Really, it wasn't a fan letter to his characters, but to him. I explained that I loved his work when he sang, performed puppetry, and that his characters are among my favorites (of course, they're Muppets so probably all of them are my favorites!). He was kind enough to send the following letter (on the back of which is a little list of things to do, such as clean the fish tank) and an autographed photo of himself that I think he took just for me?
Who could have wished for anything more?
Thank you, Jerry Nelson, for bringing such a joy to the world.
Sesame Street remembers Jerry Nelson.
Jerry Nelson's Cameo on Sesame Street surrounded by Count, Sherlock Hemlock, Herry Monster, Fat Blue (aka Mr. Johnson)...his famous characters from that most wonderful street.
Chicago Tribune tribute.
Television Blend shared videos.
The LA Times posted a report on his passing.